Baker raises $3.5 million to become a ‘Salesforce for pot’

As the legal cannabis industry grows in the U.S., competition for customers is heating up. Now, a startup called Baker Technologies has raised $3.5 million to become a “Salesforce for pot.”

The company’s software helps marijuana dispensaries bring in new customers and inspire customer loyalty, without running afoul of ever-shifting regulations that govern precisely how these shops can market and sell their goods.

Baker CEO and co-founder Joel Milton said that today, the company works with 250 dispensaries in 10 U.S. states where pot is legal, as well as in Canada. Twenty-eight states allow cannabis to be sold and used legally now, Milton noted, but with varying levels of restriction. In places where only medical use is allowed, and in very limited ways, dispensaries haven’t cropped up to serve a general population of adults and tourists. So Baker hasn’t (yet) entered those markets.

In recent press interviews, and at his confirmation hearing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made statements against the legalization of marijuana. That has left some cannabis and pot-tech businesses worried. But pot’s acceptance is growing. And positive economic contributions are one reason investors and industry insiders don’t expect the industry to be suddenly curtailed, Milton says.

 Last year, According to reports by Arcview  Market Research, the legal market for pot generated $6.7 billion in sales in North America. According to forecasts from New Frontier Data, if all U.S. states that currently allow legal sales of cannabis continue on their projected growth rates, they should generate some $2.3 billion in state tax revenue just from retail sales by 2020.

Investors in the new round include Michael Lazerow, Base Ventures, XG Ventures, Poseidon Asset Management, Phyto Partners, the founders of Outside Lands, and several other angel investors. As we previously reported, Baker raised $1.6 million in seed funding and graduated from the 500 Startups accelerator.

Okta IPO filing marks public market tipping point for SaaS Vendors

Wall Street could finally be ready to accept that model and the long path to profitability that tends to be part and parcel of this approach.

Frank Dickson, an analyst for IDC who covers the Identity Access Management (IAM) space, thinks that Wall Street will like the eye-popping growth numbers, in spite of the losses we are now used to seeing from SaaS startups as they grow the business.

Okta reported on its S-1 that its revenue grew from $41.0 million in fiscal 2015 to $85.9 million in fiscal 2016. That’s an increase of 109 percent for those keeping score at home.

That was the good news. The bad news was the red ink, with Okta reporting net losses of $59.1 million for fiscal 2015 and $76.3 million for fiscal 2016. Perhaps Wall Street takes a kinder look toward these kinds of losses today — given the recent Snap IPO and other big-name loss-making listings — than they did, say, in 2014, when Box announced it was going public.

Dickson believes it does. “The cloud may have been difficult to explain at one time. That has changed. Security professionals and IT professionals as a whole are much more accepting of the cloud as the vast majority of all businesses has some part of their infrastructure in the cloud now,” he told TechCrunch.

Okta single sign-on lets you sign onto a variety of cloud services. Source: Okta

Regardless, not all SaaS companies are created equal, of course — they just happen to use the same business model. Okta, for its part, wants to be the identity access layer for the cloud. While it is certainly not the only thing it does, Okta’s core service offering and its primary value proposition remains providing single sign-on for the cloud.

All of us face the drudgery of signing into multiple apps, cloud services and web sites as we move between mobile devices and computers. When you are working for a business with potentially hundreds of such identity gates, having just one greatly simplifies your life. That’s what Okta is offering in a nutshell, and, according to the S-1, it provides this service for more than 2 million users.

IAM grows up

Andre Durand, founder and CEO at Ping Identity, a fellow IAM company that was sold last year for $600 million to Vista Equity Partners, a healthy exit itself, said that Okta’s filing is further evidence that theirs is a thriving industry.

“Look, it’s a good sign of health for a sector when there is activity in positive financing. Those of us who have been in the business for some time and seen the importance and centrality of identity [understand] that it has resulted in the success of Okta and us and others,” Durand told TechCrunch.

Dickson adds that, as we move to the cloud, identity becomes even more important, and finding ways to authenticate identity as we move across systems and platforms is becoming ever more paramount. “The identity business is growing up. We have finally accepted the reality that perimeter-based security approaches are insufficient by themselves. Identity management has become the central component to security,” he said.

Risky business

But in spite of the clear need for such a service, there are other potential pitfalls for an IAM business, which Okta fully acknowledged in the Risk Factors section of the S-1. One of the more interesting ones was that it didn’t control the underlying systems it was responsible for logging into, and if a company were to switch to a non-standard way of logging in, this could have an impact on the business.

This could be a nod to a spat that Okta had with Microsoft in 2014 when it was initially disinvited from a Microsoft conference, and eventually allowed to participate. At the time, Business Insider reported that Microsoft reasoned that Okta was a direct competitor in mobility solutions space.

In fact, one person who spoke on background for this story believed this was the reason for the clause. “I think that clause speaks to what Microsoft could do to their business if they turned off Office 365 or made it difficult for Okta,” this person said. Needless to say, Office 365 is bound to be a crucial business for any cloud vendor like Okta because of its sheer size, and losing that business would have a significant impact.

Andras Cser, an analyst with Forrester, says all IAM vendors face this risk to some extent, and although standardization tends to work against this approach, there is no guarantee that one of the bigger companies won’t take matters into their own hands.

“IAM solutions inherently support third-party, heterogeneous business software (on-prem, SaaS, etc.) with single sign-on and provisioning. But as the number of these supported software apps increases, the question arises: can the vendor keep up?,” Cser wondered. It’s a question Okta will need to answer in the years to come.

Making the move

It’s important to note that Okta raised more than $228 million on a $1.2 billion unicorn valuation. It has more than 2,000 customers today, and interoperability in the cloud is a big selling point. Okta offers that ability to move between cloud services, and it boasts partnerships with companies like AWS, GSuite, Box and Workplace by Facebook.

Whether or not all of their strengths translate into a successful public company is impossible to say, but on balance the company is offering a useful set of services for a modern approach to computing and software, using a subscription model with all of the advantages that go with generating recurring revenue.

As Box CEO Aaron Levie says, Okta is part of much broader shift to cloud services. “Enterprises all around the world are looking to replace their legacy software with best-of-breed cloud platforms, and Okta has been a massive part of this movement,” he said.

Instagram begins blurring some sensitive content, opens two-factor to all

Instagram is already doing a lot to spot and censor posts that violate its community guidelines, like outright porn, but now it’s also taking steps to block out potentially sensitive material that might not technically run afoul of its rules. The social network is adding a blurred screen with a “Sensitive Content” warning on top of posts that fit this description, which basically means posts that have been reported as offensive by users, but don’t merit takedowns per the posted Instagram guidelines.

This is an app feature that will add a step for users who aren’t worried about being scandalized by images posted on the network, since you’ll have to tap an acknowledgement in order to view the photo or video. The blurred view will show up both in list and grid display modes, and Instagram says it’ll prevent “surprising or unwanted experiences” in the app. It’s likely that Instagram is trying to find a balance between reducing community complaints and keeping its guidelines relatively open.

The second big update is the broad release of two-factor introduction to all users. Previously, this was available only to a limited set of members, despite the near-universal recommendation from security experts that they use two-factor wherever available. You can enable this feature using the gear icon in your profile page and enabling the option to “Require Security Code” under “Two-Factor Authentication.”

 Instagram’s new blurred content filters are another step in its continued efforts to clean up its act relative to community abuse and spam. Other steps the social network has taken include disabling comments on individual posts, and offering reporting tools and support within the app for cases that involve potential self-harm.

Facebook Messenger rolls out mention alerts and message Reaction emoji

Group chat will get a bit less chaotic with the global rollout of two Facebook Messenger features it was previously testing in Vietnam.

Users can now @mention friends in a group chat to send them a special notification to reply to your message so they don’t miss it in a noisy thread. You just type @, then the person’s name or in-thread nickname, and the name will be highlighted and that person will get an alert.

Meanwhile, Facebook is bringing its News Feed Reactions to Messenger so you can reply by attaching a love, smile, wow, sad, angry, thumbs-up or thumbs-down emoji to a specific message. This way you’ll be able to simply express agreement, disagreement or an emotion about a particular message, even if a bunch of other messages have come in since.

Tap and hold on a message to pull up the Reactions menu and select one. Everyone will see a counter of different reactions on the message, and you can tap that counter to see exactly who reacted how. Reactions work in one-on-one chats, too.

 The “Thumbs-down” Reaction could be interpreted as Facebook’s first real “Dislike button.” However, Facebook calls it a “No” Reaction and told me that since people often use Messenger for coordinating logistics, it wanted to add easy ways to vote for or against a proposed plan.

TechCrunch first spotted and reported on a test of Messenger Reactions early this month, and also saw that users in Vietnam were trying out mentions. Reactions works very similar to iOS 10’s iMessage’s Tapback reactions launched in September, and Slack’s more expansive and long-standing emoji reaction selector.

Messenger Reactions work the same as iMessage’s Tapback reactions that launched last year

Doubling down on group chat is smart for Messenger at a time when it’s been criticized for injecting social media content broadcasting into the communication app via Snapchat Stories clone Messenger Day. Messenger actually started as a group chat app called Beluga before Facebook acquired it. With mentions and Reactions, Facebook could use its better group chat experience than SMS to win users from the status quo.

Apple plans to invest $500 million for new research centers in China

Apple is trying to tap into local talent by building new research centers around the world. As spotted by MacRumors, the company just announced on its Chinese website that it is going to build two new R&D centers in Shanghai and Suzhou.

This is going to be a significant investment as Apple plans to spend 3.5 billion yuan, or a little bit more than $500 million. The company already announced research centers in Beijing and Shenzhen, so there will be four centers in China in total. Apple also has teams in France, Israel, the U.K., Japan and Sweden.

Apple said that some of those engineers will work on supply chain improvements. Most of Apple’s products are manufactured in China. And some of the best electronics engineers in the world who can help you ship tens of millions of devices a year also live in China.

It could be easier to work on proprietary Chinese protocols with a local team in China as well. Apple needs to make sure that its devices work on all Chinese networks.

 So it seems logical that Apple would go beyond partnering with local firms in China by creating its own research centers. This way, Apple has a foot on the ground and gets the best of both worlds.

As a side effect, Apple shows that it is willing to invest in the Chinese economy. It’s a great way to convince the Chinese government that you deserve favors.

Apple already has many different stores in China. Apple is also the fourth smartphone maker in China behind Oppo, Huawei and Vivo. China is a key market for Apple, and today’s new research centers prove that once again.

Tizeti is bringing wireless internet to urban Africa

Facebook and Alphabet have spent millions on internet-enabled drones, balloons, and other services to solve the last mile problem of connectivity in rural markets in developing nations, but that solves a problem that affects a smaller population than addressing connectivity in cities.

Meanwhile, a new company called Tizeti, which is graduating from the latest batch of startups to come from Y Combinator, is proposing a simple solution to the connectivity problem… Build more towers, more cheaply, and offer internet services at a cost that makes sense for consumers in the urban environments where most people actually live.

“There’s a ton of capacity going to 16 submarine cables [coming into Africa],” says Tizeti founder Kendall Ananyi. “The problem is getting the internet to the customers. You have balloons and drones and that will work in the rural areas but it’s not effective, in urban environments. We solve the internet problem in a dense area.”

It’s not a radical concept, and it’s one that’s managed to net the company 3,000 subscribers already and nearly $1.2 million in annual recorded revenue, according to Ananyi.

“There are 1.2 billion people in Africa, but only 26% of them are on online and most get internet over mobile phones,” says Ananyi. Perhaps only 6% of that population has an internet subscription, he said.

Tizeti is angling to solve that problem in Nigeria by offering unlimited internet access through its wi-fi towers at a cost that he claims is affordable for Africa’s emerging middle class.

The company’s subscriptions start at $30 per month.

Tizeti’s business model wrings cost efficiencies from every part of the development process, he said. The company saves money on siting and development by offering free wi-fi services to the owners of the land where the company builds its 100-foot-tall wi-fi towers. The towers themselves are powered by solar modules instead of electricity from the grid or an on-site generator.

In all, Ananyi says that the 35 towers his company built in Lagos cost roughly $7,000, vs. $17,000 per month if the company was using standard generators.

For the basic service, customers get wi-fi internet at a speed of 10mbps. Typical customers will use anywhere from 100 gigs to 1 terabyte per month, says Ananyi.

While the company’s service is typically offered in the home, it is getting set to debut a new universal hotspot service for anyone with a cell phone. That cheaper plan, can be made available to anyone who has a wi-fi enabled device, says Ananyi.

“It’s for downmarket users who can’t afford the setup costs for in-home,” says Ananyi.  “Anybody who wants to can connect and pay smaller amounts for a day a week or a month.”

For Ananyi, a former Microsoft employee who then went to work for ExxonMobil on some of their deepwater projects off the Nigerian coast, the chance to work on Internet infrastructure was the answer to a larger problem. He and his co-founder Ifeanyi Okonkwo, a former Blackberry employee, initially wanted to do video-on-demand.

“We found out that there wasn’t enough internet,” says Ananyi. “We decided a bigger opportunity was to go after the internet problem itself.”

The hectic work of developing website made easier with python, MySQL and Django training

There are several training in the computer languages. All training has its different advantages.to help you unlatch career life in the technology world, Python, MySQL And Django Training holds the primary key. These three computer languages assist in developing a robust web application. As the name suggests it’s the combination of 3 different languages and with every language giving its best in its field has made it popular for developing secure web applications.

Image result for The hectic work of developing website made easier with python, MySQL and Django training.

When you pursue your training in Python, MySQLand Django Course in Dallas you get benefited thrice. Django provides you with a library of framework along with third party frameworks present you with ample choice and Python and MySQL assists in making a lightweight andsecuredwebsite. Security is the matter of great concern in any profession and with this training a student gets best of not two worlds but three worlds. During the teaching session, focus is paid to the fundamentals of these named languages and every concept is made clear from simple to complex, from basics to advance. Plus, ample exercises and expert guidance helps in attaining mastery of the subject. This way you are able to develop an own web app with which the business is governed these days.

During the training period you will learn the programming concepts of the language and how to reuse and maintain the code. Further with the help of MySQL you will be able to manage memory, thus enhancing, managing and running of applications on various platforms made easier. Django helps in building secure, robust websites. All those web programmers, students and Pythondevelopers who want to add on to their skills must opt for the course. It is going to totally revolutionize their professional life.

Getting training online means flexible timings, easy access and greater learning experiences through trained and dedicated professionals who are always ready to help and polish your skills. The training is an opportunity for the self-motivatedpeople who want to add on to their skills, anytime and at any place. Gabbing training along with your studies or job is certainly made easier with this course. No wonder the joint efforts of these three different concepts help in building flawless websites. The training will help you master the named three programs and thus making an addition to your present skills. This add-on will certainly help you in surviving in this competitive world of ever changing technology.

Practice sessions and expert guidance is the USB of the training with doubt session clearing clouds of confusion has made the training as one of the most sought after amongst the learners. It also teaches you how to connect the Django framework with the MySQL database. With Django you will be able to integrate them all efficiently. By polishing your skills you will remain at the forefront of learning by laying a footprints for others to follow.

How to be a perfect CSPO

A product must be projected to be successful and that can be done effectively through the help of a Product owner. In each investment there must be a proper ROI and that is ensured by a CSPO. Hence, you can understand the position of a CSPO in a company. Just go through the roles that you will be playing and that is going to give you the perfect support in terms of products and variant. Just go through the role that you will have to play after you go through the Cspo Training.

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Making the product successful

For making a product successful in market, there are different tough decisions that are to be taken from the end of a CSPO. Thus this is a vital role that you need to play in n organization, while in the service. Some of the decisions can even

Turn around or break up the entire project. Thus the role and responsibility here is really tough and admirable.

Creating team vision

A CSPO is like the team leader. So, the entire team will be working under the instructions of you. It is your duty to motivate the team, give them the dignity of freedom at work and even to restrict them from certain operations. The entire function is to make it certain that all the team members are readily in control and are perfect to give their best level of performance on your word.

Recording and performing

There are different levels of product chains that you will have to face in the mid of the product life, through out the process, there will be different backlog conditions too. After you go through the Cspo Certification In Paris, your task will not only be to get out of the situation but to raise your team quite effectively to overcome the situation and raise the product support. At times you will also have to prioritize your backlogs, so that the ultimate result goes in your way.

Daily meetings

While handling your team in an effective way, you will also have to handle them with their working style. To do that in the simplest way so that their activities can remain in united dimension, you will have to call them for daily meetings. It can be at the end of the day’s work, but at that time your staffs will be tired of the day’s pressure. Hence it is always better to hold the meets at the start of the job. This will keep the entire team’s action in the right path.

Work with the sprint

The last part of the task that you will have to handle is in the form of sprint. The course of the sprint has to be monitored regularly and if necessary the path can have to be changed along with its direction. Being a CSPO, decision making for that and making planning is your task. If a total change is needed, you might even have to terminate the sprint. That authority is with you. So, the responsibility can also be understood easily.

The above stated things are the basic responsibilities of a CSPO, although there are different things lying in the interim path. So, check those out too.

Business Optimization 101: Strategies For Expansion And Efficiency

If you want your business to get and remain in a state of perpetual expansion and optimized efficiency, now is the time to access and implement strategies that will generate the desired result. Utilize some or all of the techniques outlined below to make company optimization a reality for your business:

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1. Hire Sales Reps.

One great way to make your company more efficient is hiring sales reps. These individuals will help expedite and optimize the sales strategies that lead your business to attain more substantive conversion rates. Companies such as Saleslink are pleased to provide clients with manufacturers reps to help generate this outcome. When you start looking for the right sales company, make sure that they can offer key services such as account management and lead generation. Also do internet research to ensure that the company has an impeccable reputation and a proven track record of generating tangible results for clients.

2. Utilize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software.

Another technique you can implement to make your company more efficient while also facilitating expansion is the use of CRM software. This software is important because it ensures that your marketing team can store important information regarding each customer interaction in a central location where it can be reviewed whenever necessary. This information will give the marketing staff a better understanding of the client’s shopping behavior, personal preferences, etc. Once this happens, your team members will be able to sell products more effectively.

3. Purchase Web Design And Development Services.

One final strategy that can help your company attain substantive expansion and heightened efficiency is purchasing web design and development services. These services will help your company extend its sphere of authority and influence to the online domain. Maintaining an excellent website can also help your organization function more efficiently by ensuring that you can remain in constant, immediate contact with your current clients and target market. To ensure that you find the right web optimization team to help you attain these results, check the company’s online reviews to determine what former clients are saying about the digital firm.

Get Your Company Growing Now!

There are at least three strategies you can implement to facilitate business growth. They include hiring sales reps, utilizing customer relationship management software, and purchasing web design and development services. Integrate these techniques into your current strategic plan so that you can keep your organization on the road to obtaining optimal levels of success.

Google adds add-on support to Gmail

Here’s some welcome news for Gmail users: Google is adding support for third-party add-ons that can integrate directly into the service. There are plenty of services that add functionality to Gmail already, of course, but they typically do that through a browser extension.

With this new capability, which Google announced at its Cloud Next conference in San Francisco today, users will be able to install these add-ons from the G Suite Marketplace. That’s the same marketplace that already hosts add-ons for Google’s other productivity tools like Docs and Sheets. It’ll take a bit before this goes live, though. Google says this new feature is coming “later this year.”

Users who install one of these new add-ons will be able to use them on the web and in Google’s mobile Gmail apps (though there’s no mention of Inbox, Google’s next-gen email client).

Developers who want to write these add-ons can write them once and they’ll run on all of these platforms. The company worked with Intuit, Salesforce and ProsperWorks on trialing this feature, but developers who want to give it a try can sign up for a Developer Preview here.

 While the company is currently aiming add-ons at its business users, consumers without a paid G Suite subscription will be able to install them, too, though developers will be able to choose if they want to make their extensions available to consumers or only paying G Suite customers.